Supporting budding entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka

Suraya Saleh talks to graduate Chalinda Abeykoon about launching tech start-ups
BSc Information Systems and Management graduate Chalinda Abeykoon
"You will have a broader knowledge which is highly valued by the corporate world": Chalinda Abeykoon
As a start-up, your primary goal should be to solve a problem. So find out as much information you can about the problem and the gaps between the existing solutions

Sri Lankan graduate Chalinda Abeykoon is contributing to the growth of Sri Lanka's IT industry by helping budding tech entrepreneurs make their ideas a reality.

After graduating with a BSc Information Systems and Management in 2009, Chalinda secured a job at the Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) of Sri Lanka, which is the apex body involved in ICT policy and direction for the nation.

Working in the Investment and Private sector development programme, Chalinda has been instrumental in helping to launch more than 20 start-up technology companies.

“The programme funds start-ups with innovative ideas,” Chalinda explained.

“I help budding entrepreneurs in evaluating and refining their ideas. This is usually done at universities and open mic sessions. Once start-ups are selected for the programme [following three selection rounds], I work closely with them in monitoring their growth and providing continuous mentoring as well as guidance on business strategy, among other things.”

Chalinda credits his degree, which he studied through the University of London International Programmes at Royal Institute of Colombo, for giving him the edge when applying for his job.

“My degree in Information Systems and Management allowed me to equip myself with a broad set of tools and skills through the study of subjects covering IT, Management, Sociology and Mathematics."

“My degree in Information Systems and Management allowed me to equip myself with a broad set of tools and skills through the study of subjects covering IT, Management, Sociology and Mathematics. Hence I was able to demonstrate the diversity of my knowledge and understanding in working for an organisation which looked at eDevelopment at a national level,” he said.

He added that the degree programme, which was developed by the renowned London School of Economics and Political Science, allowed him to gain a deep understanding of his core subject matter, as well as providing the opportunity to take other subjects that complemented the main stream of study.

“This ensures that at the end of three years you will have a broader knowledge which is highly valued by the corporate world and you will be able to position yourself as someone who can tackle multiple challenges at a very early stage in your career,” Chalinda said.

And as a start-up evangelist, tackling early career challenges is Chalinda’s area of expertise. His advice for budding entrepreneurs?

“As a start-up, your primary goal should be to solve a problem. So find out as much information you can about the problem and the gaps between the existing solutions. Always remember to engage your potential customers since day one.”

If you want to find out how a University of London degree could set you on the path to a great career, come along to the EDEX Expo in Colombo later this month.

Venue: EDEX Expo Sri Lanka, Colombo, BMICH Hall B Stand 164L

Date: Friday 23 January 2015 to Sunday 25 January 2015

Time: 11.30 - 17.00

To find out more and pre-register to visit the EDEX Expo please visit the EDEX Expo website.

Attendees will be able to meet University of London Admissions and Student Advice Centre staff and find out about the range of economics, finance, business, management and law programmes that can be studied in Sri Lanka.